Authority and legislation
The principal legislation determining the functions and responsibilities of the ABS is contained in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 (ABS Act) and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (C&S Act). Under the Statistics (Arrangements with States) Act 1956, Commonwealth and state statistical services have been integrated since 1958 (since 1924 for Tasmania). Although not covered by legislation, similar arrangements apply in both territories. There is regular consultation with state and territory governments on statistical priorities.
The ABS Act sets out the functions of the ABS, as shown in the following box. The ABS Act also established the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC).
The C&S Act provides the Statistician with the authority to conduct statistical collections and, when necessary, to direct a person or an organisation to provide statistical information. The Act imposes obligations on the ABS to publish and disseminate compilations and analyses of statistical information, and to maintain the confidentiality of information collected under the Act.
|THE FUNCTION OF THE ABS|
The functions of the ABS are:
a. to constitute the central statistical authority for the Australian government and, by arrangements with the governments of the states, provide statistical services for those governments;
b. to collect, compile, analyse and disseminate statistics and related information;
c. to ensure coordination of the operations of official bodies in the collection, compilation and dissemination of statistics and related information, with particular regard to:
d. to formulate, and ensure compliance with, standards for the carrying out by official bodies of operations for statistical purposes;
i. the avoidance of duplication in the collection by official bodies of information for statistical purposes;
ii. the attainment of compatibility between, and the integration of, statistics compiled by official bodies; and
iii. the maximum possible utilisation, for statistical purposes, of information, and means of collection of information, available to official bodies;
e. to provide advice and assistance to official bodies in relation to statistics; and
f. to provide liaison between Australia, on the one hand, and other countries and international organisations, on the other hand, in relation to statistical matters.
Section 6 of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975
The ABS Act requires the Statistician to prepare, for presentation to parliament, an annual report on the operations of the ABS. The ABS Act also requires that ASAC prepares, and submits to the Minister for presentation to the parliament, a report relating to the matters connected with the operation of the Act.
There were amendments made to the Census and Statistics Act 1905 during 2005–06 in preparation for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. These amendments were made by the Census Information Legislation Amendment Act and came into effect on 20 April 2006. These amendments:
In 2005–06, the Census Regulations 1994 were repealed and replaced with the Census (2006) Regulations 2005. These Regulations prescribed the matters about which questions were to be asked in the 2006 Census. A Proclamation by the Governor-General appointed 8 August 2006 as the Census day for 2006.
- strengthened the statutory protection afforded to name identified information provided by respondents to the Census by not only protecting it from disclosure to a Court or Tribunal for a period of 99 years but also extending that protection to explicitly prohibit disclosure to another government agency for the same period.
- amended sections to allow the transfer of Census information to the National Archives of Australia, with the consent of the individuals, not just for the 2001 Census but all subsequent censuses as well.
- implemented a number of consequential amendments arising from the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, which harmonised the Census and Statistics Act 1905 with that Act.
- harmonised the criminal provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 with the Criminal Code Act 1995.
There were no amendments made to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 during 2005–06.